Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Art of Play: A Mechanical Fox, 1930-39

Mechanical Fox
Shuco, 1930-39
The Museum of Childhood
The Victoria & Albert Museum
In the 1930’s, the fox became a surprisingly popular subject for children’s soft toys.  This is, in large part, due to fox characters in children’s literature whose trickster antics were much enjoyed.  German toymakers Schreyer & Co. (known as Schuco in the U.K.) offered a line of mechanical toys which, by manipulation of the creature’s tail, were able to either nod their heads in agreement or shake them side-to-side to indicate the negative. This form of interaction proved quite enticing to children who begged their parents for these little mechanical companions. 
The most popular of the line was this fox.  In typical 1930’s style, the fox has been anthropomorphized.  He sits upright and wears wire-rimmed spectacles which give him a look of sly wisdom.  This example, housed in the Museum of Childhood at the Victoria & Albert Museum, was manufactured between 1930 and 1939.  It still bears its original tags and is in full working order. 

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